Warburton confident ahead of title defence
January 27, 2013
Wales endured an awful autumn internationals campaign © PA Photos
Wales captain Sam Warburton is adamant his team is not lacking in confidence ahead of their Six Nations title defence and can prove the critics wrong, despite their woeful run of results.
Wales will go into next Saturday's clash with Ireland at the Millennium stadium on the back of seven consecutive defeats, including losses to Argentina and Samoa and four defeats to Australia. But Warburton insists his squad can regain the form that saw them reach the Rugby World Cup semi-final in 2011 and secure the Six Nations Grand Slam last year.
"It is not all doom and gloom," Warburton told Walesonline. "People like to pick on the regions or the lack of recent wins the Welsh team have had. But we are in a good place and there is no lack of confidence.
"There are always ups and down in sport and we just have to make sure we weather that and come out the other side. It was not so long ago we were playing some great rugby and reaching World Cup semi-finals and winning Grand Slams.
"We have a strong squad which is similar to the one that has enjoyed success over the last 18 months in the World Cup and the Six Nations. You don't become a bad or good side overnight and the players know that.
"We played a lot better towards the end of the autumn campaign and that is what we have to focus on. We were so close to winning against Australia and it is just those small margins we need to overcome."
Wales coach Rob Howley was similarly defiant in the face of pre-tournament scepticism, which included Wales legend Barry John suggesting Howley's team could slip into the second tier alongside Scotland and Italy. But the Wales interim head coach is confident they can defy the critics.
He said: "We are proud of the tag of Grand Slam champions and we want to defend our crown. The experience we had of winning the Six Nations has been very special.
"A lot of these players have been through that process in 2008 and 2012. We want to replicate that and having that experience makes us very proud. We won't relinquish the title easily and that is our goal because we want to back up our Six Nations campaign of last year.
"That was a question last year asked of this squad, whether they could back up the World Cup semi-final performances, and we did that. We have had a blip but the players will come in as Six Nations champions and title holders. We will not give that up easily.
"The injuries have been talked about, but I want to focus on the team going forward. We have always believed in talent, and it flourishing in our national environment."
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
With the retirement of Adam Jones, Welsh rugby says goodbye to a great player and one of its biggest personalities too, writes Tom Hamilton
Cards, kicks, slips and scores: It's The Week in Pictures, the finest snaps from the last seven days of rugby
Huw Richards Rewinds to 1975 when three Welsh legends were handed their debuts and assesses their legacy
Seven places in the Champions Cup quarter-finals are up for grabs; we break down the permutations for each group in the final round of matches